Hello Tiger fans! It’s the moment we’ve all been anticipating since the beginning of our dark horse campaign for a national championship. It’s undeniable that this is our best shot in eight years to take down the Tide. In years previous, we’ve hoped to pull the upset with a clearly outmatched team, but have always fell short. Sometimes, shamefully short. This year, with our offense, this is a true game of the century between the two best teams in the nation. The stakes and the stage are skyhigh for a fight in Tuscaloosa. We may be No.1 in the nation (AP poll), but we go into Bryant-Denny with the hearts of underdogs. As we’ve lost the past eight matchups and ESPN is giving Alabama almost a 75% chance to win, we are right to consider ourselves so. The only soul in LSU’s football program that remembers beating Alabama is Steve Ensminger who has seen us out of the I-formation and all the way into the best spread offense in football. For everyone else, Alabama is an omnipotent antagonist that has put a blotch on our success for almost a decade, and on Saturday we will have a chance to overthrow them in dominant fashion.
I will forego discussing Tua’s injury and whether he will heal in time for LSU. It is unlikely they will make the decision public before game day. Assuming for now that Tua will play, Alabama has a prolific offense. Their passing attack closely resembles LSU. Alabama converted to the RPO/spread about four years ago and has run it as well as anybody (save LSU). This will be far and away the best offense we’ve faced. They have a trio of dangerous receivers (Jeudy, Ruggs, and Smith) and a quarterback that can hit them even in the smallest windows (assuming Tua plays), a mirror of LSU’s own personnel. With Stingley and Delpit expected to be healthy by gameday, the matchup of the game will be between our defensive backs and the nations second best trio of receivers. If we can slow down Alabama’s quick passes, yards after catch, and get a pass rush, I trust that our offense will win this game.
Alabama is loaded with talent on defense but we can expose their points of weakness. Dylan Moses suffered a season-ending injury before the season even got started. Moses is the Tide’s equivalent to Devin White as a leader and an athlete. His absence is deeply felt on the field. Freshman Shane Lee is starting in their middle linebacker spot. Alongside Lee is the more proven freshmen, Christian Harris who earned his spot in the almost equally important Will position. There is nothing that makes Orgeron madder than a Baton Rouge native in a Crimson Tide jersey and that’s exactly what Harris is. Our RPO is built around taking advantage of that Will position and making him pay for his decisions. Burrow couldn’t be happier about getting to pick on a freshmen.
Our strengths clash perfectly with Alabama, spread vs secondary, but even on their best days Patrick Surtain (a late switch from LSU to Alabama), Treyvon Diggs, and company can’t blanket Jefferson, Marshall, AND Chase forever. This is where LSU shows that they are the better team, strength to strength, and make their statement.
It’s hard to say how Alabama will try to defend us. Will they spread out and cover us, trusting that they can hang or will they bring pressures and stunts to mess up Burrow? Considering what they’ve seen so far, the latter. Don’t rule out the run with Edwards-Helaire that would match up on their defense better. Usually Alabama stops the RPO by bringing down the safety into the Will’s zone and letting the WIll play the run, but they can’t risk taking the top of their defense like that against Burrow.
The biggest key to victory; our offensive line continues to play well and they keep Burrow clean and let us run it right into the teeth of those inexperienced linebackers against a Tide defensive box that is used to dominating LSU offenses. The converse is also true; if you let the pass rush get to Burrow and get us in even worse situations we won’t go very far. Burrow has shown that even against the best secondaries, if you give him time he will find his guy and make you pay.
I can see a dogfight that lives up to all the hype, and a high scoring game where field position, key stops, turnovers, and penalties eventually decide the game. And after all is said and done, LSU walks out of Tuscaloosa like a new nation having revolted and won against the Tide’s rule. Tiger nation, get up!